This morning I thought I would have time to pull together a round-up of new music to recommend. In sifting through tracks and videos that had hit my radar screen over the last 24 hours, it dawned on me that the songs I most wanted to feature were all variants of black or “blackened” metal. And so, without planning to do so, I have a week-day edition of SHADES OF BLACK for you.
It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of this Portuguese band since their inception, and have really enjoyed watching their profile become more prominent and their fanbase expand so dramatically since the release of their debut EP in 2016. Their new sophomore album, Limbo, has been high on my most-anticipated list for 2020, and at last we have a track to share, along with the fantastic cover art by Eliran Kantor.
The new song, “Null“, was presented through a great video directed by Guilherme Henriques, and Gaerea introduced it with this comment:
“‘NULL‘ exploits the unnatural vision of the undying martyrs. These are different souls from another time. The power of being a living creature and not just a random programmed soul who is constantly being dragged into the false Sunlight. ‘Suicide is part of your life’ was never about them, but us as its the only threat worth dying for. I am not from this world.”
In a word, “Null” is ravaging. Booming bass notes and an electrifying drum performance drive the song in a fury, while the feverishly roiling and writhing guitars and the extravagantly tormented vocals (which are so intense that they raise goosebumps on the flesh) channel fire and frenzy. Solemn choral voices eventually emerge, as do more sweeping melodic patterns, but the feeling of soul-wrecking despair persists. Here’s another word for the song: breathtaking.
Limbo is set for release on July 24 by Season of Mist.
Uprising is the solo project of Waldgeflüster founding member Winterherz, and that fact ought to be enough to seize your attention. But even if you’re unfamiliar with Waldgeflüster, the two songs now available from Uprising‘s new album will do the seizing all by themselves.
“There’s No Such Thing As Hope” makes a great follow-on from that Gaerea track, because it’s also breathtakingly intense. From the throat-ripping agony and rage of the vocals to the brilliantly blazing quality of the electrifying riffs and the full-throttle force of the rhythms, the music is immediately thrilling — and the melody also spectacularly soars and shines, and becomes dark and full of dread. The song has such sweeping and ravishing emotional power that it achieves a kind of near-mythic grandeur, while also whirling with abandon and pounding with neck-breaking impact.
The second song, “Uprise Part II“, is immediately more grief-stricken in its mood and more stately in its pacing, yet the flickering guitars still have a magically thrilling effect. As the song evolves, the music becomes defiant and heroic, but without completely shedding the mantle of melancholy. Chords peal like bells, boil in a fever, and cascade in grand musical panoramas; the rhythms gallop head-long and slug damned hard; and the vocals change repeatedly, adding to the song’s changing moods. The track is just as dramatic and dynamic as the previous song, and just as emotionally transportive. The two together mark this album as one to grab with both hands as soon as possible.
“Angry, intense, and explicitly anti-fascist” is how Tridoid Records describes Uprising, and they recommend the record for fans of Dodsrit, Dawn Ray’d, mid-career Darkthrone, and of course Waldgeflüster.
II will be digitally released by Tridoid Records and Uprising on May 15th. Tridoid will provide a tape release on June 26th, and CD, LP, bundles, and T-shirts are available for pre-order from Wolfsgrimm Records:
“An Elder Reckoning” is the first song revealed from the new second album by Fellwarden, which is the solo project of Fen frontman The Watcher, though he is aided here (as before) by drummer Havenless (now also a member of Fen).
In keeping with Fellwarden‘s inspirations, this new song is grand and hallowed, a form of mesmerizing reverence for an ancient age and even more ancient English landscapes. But the song is a dynamic one, and so as those sweeping melodies wash over us the drums also hammer like pistons, the bass vibrates at a rapid rate, and the guitars flicker and shine like stars in a vast firmament. The Watcher howls like a savage but also raises his voice in a solemn chorus.
The song is a long one, and so not surprisingly it includes a mid-song interlude, which turns out to be bright, beautiful, ethereal, and entrancing. As the sound swells again, the music lifts the heart and sends it flying across the earth and the ages again. The Watcher sings in passionate, soaring tones, adding to the romance of the music — which is hard to resist.
The new album is Wreathed in Mourncloud, and it will be released on CD and vinyl LP formats by Eisenwald on June 26th.
The next song, “Death Sown in Polluted Soil“, is going to give you a case of sonic whiplash, coming as it does right after that Fellwarden opus. To provide fair warning, I’ll quote from the press material concerning the album it comes from:
“To Crown All Befoulment [is] a sonic reign of terror clawing deep into the most wretched, abominable, and hideous realms of human nature. Nihilistic beyond comprehension and sonically devastating, on the crushing debut LP Dearth explore incomprehensible thresholds of disgust and abjection through a sonic arsenal forged deep into in the most tormented circles of hell, unleashing a cataclysm of dark death metal horror that will leave the listener scarred and ravaged”.
Okay, now you’ve been forewarned.
And oh yes, “Death Sown in Polluted Soil” (which premiered at DECIBEL) is an ugly and unnerving but hugely adrenaline-triggering piece of work from these Oakland-based ravagers. It hurls the listener into a cyclone of distorted riffing, febrile guitar lunacy, maniacally battering drums, and a terrifying consortium of grotesque, cavernous roars and mad-demon shrieks. Dearth pick their moments to jab and jolt as well as to swarm and scourge, and the drummer booms, batters, and thunders as well as blasts like an automatic weapon. Before you listen you’d better gulp oxygen like a fish on land, because you’ll need it.
To Crown All Befoulment will be released on June 19th by Sentient Ruin. The great cover art was made by Ike Greca.
To conclude, here’s a new video (“in the spirit of classic ’90s black metal videos”) for a new song off the forthcoming sophomore album by Finland’s Iku-Turso. The song, “Ultionis“, is described as “a grim tale of an ancient act of revenge set in the pagan wastelands of mythical Kainuu”.
The trilling riff and slashing chords at the outset set the hook, while also creating an otherworldly and frightening sensation. That feeling of spectral menace is enhanced by the ugliness of the vocals, which sound like the final cruel proclamations uttered from a demon throat being strangled by barbed wire. After a momentous bridge, the music becomes more riotous and exultant in its sounds, but no less paranormal or threatening in its sensations. Glorious fanfares also ring out, but they sound like the herald for a prince of hell.
The new album is Pakana, and it will be released on May 15th (CD, LP, and MC) through Wolfspell Records. Two more songs are streaming at Bandcamp, so I’ve included that player after the video. I’ve previously commented about one of those: “Very easy to get caught up and whirled away by this track. The multi-faceted ‘Bellum‘ is a vicious, cruel, glorious, mystical, and melodically memorable track”.